Sunday, February 10, 2008

Conference Overview

Okay, so it wasn't GATE, it's GCTE. The 2008 Conference was held at Callaway Gardens, and overall it was quite good.

I was a little leery at first, because the promotional information on the website was ... skimpy. I would've liked to know more about the exhibitors, the presenters, the sessions, etc. But hey, NBD, the school's paying for it, so I'm going. :D

It took pretty much all day to get there - though part of the reason was that we stopped for lunch and chilled for about two hours. Maybe three. It was a nice long time, and for once, I wasn't watching the clock. I got a sub from a place called Charley's, and DANG it was good. Plus I had a made-to-order salad as a side, but I just could NOT get through all of it. Oh, and they had kiwi lemonade - my favorite!

On the way, and throughout the trip, I had the opportunity to get to know the other members of the department. I don't know if it was spending so much time together or being away from school - maybe both - maybe something else I haven't thought of - but we all opened up more than we do over lunch during the school day. Not all of that was particularly enjoyable (more on that later) but on the whole it was very special, and I guess it's not a bad thing to find out that people you look up to aren't perfect. I mean, you know that, but experiencing it is something else entirely.

Our first stop the next morning was the exhibitor's hall - we skipped the opening session. Actually, we skipped ALL of the general sessions, though later we heard that the middle one was quite good. (Plus that was the lunch one, so we missed the food, too. Ah, well.) I learned that it is difficult to tell the difference between textbooks. Everyone else had liked the HBJ books we'd looked at the night before, but I must admit, I liked the McDougall-Littell ones, because they had the units organized by skillset. Pearson was there too... and probably two or three more that I can't remember. I hope that before we do textbook adoption again we get to sit down with several of the books at once and do a direct comparison.

The other nice thing about the exhibitor's hall was the free stuff. The ride home seemed much longer than the ride there - in part because we left later, so we stopped earlier in the trip for lunch and had a long ride after, but also because I was so anxious to get home and go through my loot!

There were a total of six "breakout session" slots: 9-10, 10:15-11:15, 2:45-3:45, and 4:00-5:00 on Friday, and then the two morning slots on Saturday. Each evening they had a "wine and cheese reception" from 5-6, hosted by one of the publishers. I did feel a little skunked there. I would've rather had one or two evening breakouts and had the reception later. And THREE general sessions seemed like an awful lot to me for a conference that effectively lasted a day and a half.

I did learn a fair bit. I grew a lot closer to my colleagues. I got a lot of free stuff. And I made several contacts that I hope will be helpful.

I just hope all is well when I return to my classes tomorrow...


Dana Huff said...

I've gone to GCTE twice and really enjoyed it both times. I keep meaning to go again, but for some reason it just hasn't happened.

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